It is very painful to know a person with depression and feel as though you cannot do anything to help. Every day, you watch your loved one struggle with a different issue that makes you feel more helpless. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a medical condition that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Even though doctors define it as a disease, it is usually mistaken for a deliberate action where a person seeks attention. It is continuously misunderstood by the public and the person with depression is left untreated to suffer alone. Here are five ways that you can help a person with depression to make his or her life easier.
1. Keep talks light with a person with depression
A person with depression struggles with personal issues when alone. Some problems are having a depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of energy or increased fatigue, changes in appetite, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions and thoughts of death or suicide.
Being in your company should be a break from all negative thoughts. Keep topics as light as the ones you will discuss with any other person. Talk about happy moments that you once shared together. Mention the weather or current events throughout the world. Avoid asking a person with depression about negative feelings, personal problems, or why they feel depressed. Give pleasurable thoughts that may invade the negative ones during alone time.
2. Listen carefully and don’t give advice
When speaking with a person with depression, it is possible for personal topics to come up in conversation. While your loved one may seem to be the regular person you would like to know, you must remember that depression is an illness and not a choice. Don’t try to relate to his or her situation or offer unsolicited advice. You do not want to end up in an argument with a person with depression.
It is important for you to be all ears at this point. Let the person share what is on his or her mind no matter how tempted you are to give your opinion on matters. You can show interest in what is being said and ask for clarification where necessary. Leave giving advice to the professionals who are qualified to handle the disease.
3. Offer assistance and not intrude
A person with depression usually feels like everything is a task. That does not mean that the person is lazy or prefers that someone else does the work. Your loved one may desire to cook, clean, shop, play games, listen to music, watch movies, further their education and go out with friends. Unfortunately with depression, there is a dark heavy force that prevents him or her from getting up and doing these things.
Make yourself available to assist. Offer to help wash the dishes, cook food, clean the house or open the drapes in a dark room. If you are given permission to do so, then do it, but if not, do not be intrusive and invade the person’s space. A person with depression is already having a hard time dealing with self conflict and does not need to feel disrespected.
4. Get other family and friends to help
Your support will help your loved one immensely so imagine if more people got involved. Since depression is a misunderstood condition, it is crucial that you educate others about it before bringing them on board. You may not be able to convince everybody to join you so accept that and move on. Those who understand that the person with depression cannot control emotions like anybody else are the people you should invite to join you.
Let your loved one know that there are other persons who would like to be a part of his or her life. If your loved one feels uncomfortable with plenty people around, then limit your gathering to an appropriate number. You and the understanding group can be a positive influence in the life of a person with depression who will no longer feel alone.
5. Know when to call a professional
On some days your loved one may be very talkative and other days you may get the cold shoulder. Do not take it personally. Depression does not choose to hide when you are around. So it is wise to take a hint. If the person is on medication for depression, make sure that it is taken as should.
Even though you are staying silent during this time, you or someone else should be around to support. A person with depression struggles with finding purpose in life and have suicidal thoughts. If the person refuses to take the medication or starts talking about death, then make the call to his or her therapist or call the suicide hotline.
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